Rescue from Hohe Tauern by Gerry Becker

AWS to the Rescue!

In March my ski touring holiday came to an abrupt end with my helicopter evacuation from the Neue Prager Hut (2796m) in the Hohe Tauern to the hospital in Lienz where I was diagnosed with pneumonia and spent two nights as an inpatient.  Interestingly, even though I am a US citizen resident in the US, neither the helicopter company nor the hospital asked for payment or a credit card number, nor did they seem interested in my Alpenverein membership .  Both indicated that they would just send an invoice to me in the US. Either the Austrians are very trusting or they have an agreement with Arnold Schwarzenegger to put the squeeze on deadbeats in the US.

The invoice for the helicopter arrived with a cover letter stating that, because I was not an EU citizen or resident, EU tariffs would not apply.  This was a polite way of saying the sky is the limit with respect to what we are going to charge.  Perhaps this is what awaits UK members post-Brexit!  The actual flight time from the hut to the hospital was 13 minutes but the invoice charged for 47 minutes which was the time from engine start at the helicopter base, flight to the hut, then to the hospital and back to the base and engine shutdown.  This was charged at a rate of 90 EUR per minute plus a base rate of 400 EUR and a medical charge of 500 EUR for an invoice total of 5100 EUR.  The hospital bill for two days was only 1700 EUR.

Per the instructions from KNOX Versicherungsmanagement I posted my claim form and helicopter invoice to KNOX who sent it on to Generali Insurance.  They “settled” the invoice (amount unknown) within two days of receipt.   With respect to the hospital invoice, KNOX/Generali required that the invoice first be submitted to my US insurance to determine what benefits they might pay.  My US insurer required me to pay the hospital and then submit a claim.  Given that my US insurance is a high deductible (excess) plan no benefits were payable and I submitted the claim denial and invoice to KNOX/Generali.  Once again Generali paid the invoice within two days of receipt but, unfortunately, they mistakenly paid the hospital.  As soon as I notified KNOX, the error was corrected within 24 hours and the full reimbursement appeared in my bank account.

I was very impressed with the speed with which my two claims were processed.  A far cry from the weeks or months this type of thing takes in the US.  Kudos to the Alpenverein Worldwide Service.  Well worth the price.


[Updated 19 March 2019]

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